On April 2 the Town Planning and Development Committee met to discuss the South 32 Use Permit Application. Greg Lucero, the VP of Corporate Affairs at South 32, said the application has been updated based on the comments received last week by the committee and the audience. From 3.9 acres the lot has been reduced to 2.9 acres, removing the staging area for large truck deliveries and adding landscaping to the outside of the building. The lights will turn off one hour after sunset and come on one hour before sunrise. During the night they will use motion sensor lighting.

Around 30 people attended the meeting, with a majority of the audience members in disapproval of the proposed use permit, and some in favor of it.

The updated plan does not change that the use permit still is contrary to the Town General Plan said Judith Clegg, resident of Patagonia.

Michael Young, who lives on Harshaw Road, supported the mine’s use of the land. Mines established the town, he said, and he believes that South 32 will use the land in a better way than its current use.

Melissa Murietta, a council and committee member, asked Lucero if they will abide by dark skies ordinances to which he replied in the affirmative.

David Budd, the committee chair, said that the town is at a “tipping point,” as there is a movement towards industrialization.  Patagonia is an extra special town, well-known and relatively stable with its green economy, small-town flavor, eco-tourism industry, and a growing restoration industry, said Budd. The use permit from South 32 does not fit with the town plan, said Budd.  Susan Lange, a committee member concurred with Budd’s statement.

Todd Norton, committee member, read a statement favoring the use permit. We are more like a home-owner association, and the parking lot would push traffic out of town, without straining the town infrastructure, said Norton.

Gary Rutherford, committee member, said that a yes or no answer is too simple for this permit and asked South 32 to propose a plan that would bring more benefits to the town.

The discussion ended without a consensus from the committee regarding the use permit. The committee, therefore, will forward recommendations from the individual members to Town Council before the April 10 Open Hearing.